Cobell Lawsuit & Settlement | National | Politics

Sen. Tester eyes Presidential Medal of Freedom for Elouise Cobell

The late Elouise Cobell meets President Barack Obama at the White House. December 8, 2010. Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

The late Elouise Cobell, a member of the Blackfeet Nation who was the lead plaintiff in the trust fund lawsuit, could be the next Indian Country recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Sen. Jon Tester (D-Montana) is asking President Barack Obama to consider the nation's highest civilian honor for Cobell. She died in October 2011 after spending 15 years fighting for a historical accounting of the Individual Indian Money (IIM) trust fund and securing the $3.4 billion settlement to the case.

"Throughout her life, Elouise Cobell brought about real change in Indian Country and her story continues to serve as an inspiration and reminder to everyone that one person can truly make a difference," Tester wrote in a Obama. "I urge you to honor Elouise Cobell's legacy of fighting for the rights of Native Americans with the Presidential Medal of Freedom."

If the president agrees this year, Cobell would be the fourth Indian Country recipient of the medal during his administration. Obama presented the award to the late treaty rights advocate Billy Frank in 2015, activist Suzan Shown Harjo in 2014 and historian Joe Medicine Crow in 2009.

In a press release, Tester noted that he recommended Medicine Crow for the honor.

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